Maslow vs. Herzberg

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How might knowledge of motivational theories help you as a Managing Director of a supermarket chain, introduce policies and practices which increases the motivation and productivity of your employees? Try to use both theory and evidence to support any specific proposals you might make.

Motivation is the set of processes that moves a person towards a goal. Since motivation influences productivity, the Managing Director would need to have knowledge of motivational theories. The motivational theories which could help me as the Managing Director introduce policies and practices which can increase the motivation and productivity of the employees will be discussed in detail.

There have been many studies carried out to answer the question ‘if motivation can increase performance?' and different motivation theories have had different affects on staff performance and motivation. Therefore I would need to analyse the theories and then decide which would be best suited to the behaviours of my employees working at the supermarket chain. Motivation theories are focused on psychological factors and these are spitted into process or content theories. Process theories are concerned with how motivation is aroused and maintained, however content theories concentrate on what actually motivates the staff, by attempting to develop an understanding of fundamental human needs. Both types of theories will be discussed and evaluated in order for me to find the motivational theory, which is best suited to the employees at the supermarket chain.

The first comprehensive attempt to classify human needs and develop a universal motivational theory was Maslows Hierarchy. Maslow believed that everyone has the same needs, all of which can be organised as a hierarchy.

E.g. pat levels & working conditions

E.g. Job security, clear job role/description
E.g. team working, social facilities
E.g. status, recognition, power, trust
E.g. develop new skills, meet new challenges and develop ones full potential

This theory consists of two parts, the first concerns the classification of needs or motivating factors and the second is concerned with how these needs or motivating factors relate to each other. According to this theory people have several areas of needs and the first need needs to be satisfied before other needs become pre-dominant, but once a need is satisfied a previous need is no longer a motivator. I think this theory can be used for the motivation of the employees in the supermarket chain by offering the staff a minimum wage so that the psychological needs are fulfilled. Once this need has been fulfilled all the other business implications can be looked at in order to work through the hierarchy so that the staff has reached the top of the hierarchy.

As the Managing Director I wouldn't personally use this theory for the employees of the supermarket chain. This is because it does have a lot of implications, for instance not everyone has the same set of needs and different people have different degrees of needs and its difficult to assume that anyone's needs can ever be said to be fully satisfied. Also different people are likely to be striving for different need levels of the hierarchy. For example someone whose needs are dominant will be behaving differently from someone who is attempting to satisfy safety and security needs. This would cause a problem for managers because if each worker has a different hierarchy of needs, how can the manager provide motivation for all the staff? Other problems reside in the fact that need hierarchies do not recognize that situational factors such as managerial policies and practices, an organisations structure, the type of technology used and the external environment all influence our needs. Any motivational theory which proposes strong similarities between people only leads to one conclusion that there is ‘one best way' to manage and motivate people; however I feel this is not true as...
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